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Ashford van driver threatened with knife at Calais

A van driver who was threatened with a knife, had his vehicle attacked and who found a group of immigrants hiding among his cargo has spoken of the dangers behind the wheel.

Peter Newton who works for European transport specialists NTS, based in Leacon Road, Ashford, who drives a Mercedes Sprinter curtain side van, says that the journey to the port of Calais fills him with dread.

The driver who delivers automotive parts said: “A couple of weeks ago I was waiting in the queue to go in the Channel Tunnel at Calais and had left a small gap between my vehicle and the one in front of me, when a group of five migrants surrounded it.

Peter Newton with his van
Peter Newton with his van

"I edged my van forward but they began running along the sides of the vehicle trying to open the straps to get in.

“It was dark and they were wearing hoodies and I kept moving slowly forward but then my wing mirror got smashed and broke off as they tried to get on the van.”

He added: “I had to move forward but I didn’t want to hurt anybody because they are human beings, I just needed to protect myself and my load.”

It wasn’t the first dangerous situation the 36-year-old dad from Dover has faced. He said: “One day on the approach to Calais a man came up to the driver’s window pointing and demanding to get in. I kept saying ‘no’ and then he pulled out a knife and held it up at the window. When he couldn’t get in he scratched the side of the van with the knife.”

Mr Newton, who has a son, Jackson, aged two, says that he’s just trying to earn a living and that his family worry about the dangers he faces.

But it was in March that Peter faced a bigger shock. He said: “I was waiting to board the train and had passed through the vehicle security scanner and passport control, when I noticed my van rocking slightly.

The repaired canvas tear
The repaired canvas tear

“It sometimes does that in the wind but then I looked out at the other vehicles and could see no sign of it being windy, so more to just reassure myself, I decided to check in the back and I couldn’t believe it when I saw a group of six immigrants sitting inside.”

Mr Newton felt anger and fear at the discovery, and alerted French police.

But there were more surprises for the delivery driver, who said: “I went to the back of my van to check if any damage had been done and discovered two immigrants were still hidden in a box.”

Speaking from his van in Germany, Mr Newton said: “I dread coming back through Calais and will not stop anyway near it again. I will just keep driving.”

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